The Golden State Warriors finally showed some grit as they tied up the NBA Finals with a Game 4 blowout against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Is this the Warriors team we will see going forward or were the Cavaliers just tired?
Before Game 4 I said the Warriors had to be aggressive from the start and they were just that. They scored 31 points in the first quarter giving them just their second 30 point quarter in the series. Andre Iguodala was inserted into the starting lineup and he had his best performance of the postseason. He outplayed LeBron James by playing great defense while scoring 22 points, grabbing eight rebounds and knocking down 4-9 from beyond the arc. Although he failed to record an assist he always pushed the tempo off a rebound.
The Warriors tied their series highs with 24 assists while knocking down 12 three pointers. Steph Curry and Andre Iguodala combined to shoot 8-16 from downtown. Everyone in the starting lineup knocked down at least one three pointer. Golden State had a series low seven turnovers which allowed them to get more shots up.
From my perspective the Warriors hits shots that they were normally missing and the Cavaliers had dead legs. In Game 3 the Warriors had 39 uncontested shots and only hit 13. In Game 4 they took 45 uncontested shots and hit 24 which is good enough for 53.3%. They have shot over 50% on uncontested shots in two games and won both of them. Cleveland tried a Golden State tactic when they put Timofey Mozgov on Andre Iguodala daring him to shoot just as the Warriors put Andrew Bogut on Tony Allen. Well Iguodala is a better shooter than Allen and he made the Cavs pay. He was 7-13 on uncontested shots. Keep in mind he only took 15 shots altogether.
Cleveland had their chances to take the lead in this game but their legs were tired by the 4th quarter. Starting a bigger lineup allowed the Warriors to get out in transition early and often. The big lineup did allow the Cavs to dominate the offensive glass and the paint points. Cleveland grabbed 16 offensive rebounds and outscored the Warriors 46-36 in the paint. Timofey Mozgov took advantage of the small lineup, scoring a career high 28 points while grabbing 10 rebounds (six offensive rebounds).
Despite the dominance inside the Cavs outside shooting let them down. Before Game 4 they did a great job of matching the Warriors three point shooting. This time around they were only 4-27 from three point land and were outscored 36-12 from beyond the arc. Shooting 3s is key for both teams in this series. Cleveland wants a slow pace but they have to knock down shots.
Cleveland has seen their number of open shots go down each game; 42, 40, 30 and 29. Some of this has to do with the fact that LeBron James is attacking the basket and taking contested shots. Cleveland does not have to hit at least 50% of their open shots to win games, they are usually around 40%. In Game 4 they were horrible as they shot 6-29 which equals 20%. James and Dellavedova led the way with nine uncontested shots each.
The “Others” did not step up for the Cavs. J.R. Smith and James Jones combined to score four bench points. Smith was 0-8 from beyond the arc including a sequence in which he missed 3 three pointers in a row, two of them were wide open and the Cavs were only down 10 points.
Despite the blowout win and the improved pace that the Warriors established in this game I still like the Cavs in Game 5. The game was a blowout because Cleveland got tired in the 4th quarter and only scored 12 points. Going into the 4th it was a six point game 76-70. If you look at the 2nd and 3rd quarters Cleveland was able to get stops and make the game ugly. Cleveland won the 2nd and 3rd quarters by one point. They again held Golden State to under 25 points in the quarters.
In 18 quarters of basketball the Warriors have scored at least 25 points in a quarter just seven times. In a four game span against the Rockets they scored over 25 points in a quarter 10 times.
With two days off before Game 5 I believe this rest favors Cleveland. Golden State should be the fresher team and Game 4 should have been a blowout from the start. Cleveland was able to hang around even though they really didn’t have any legs. The Warriors only pulled away late in the 4th quarter.
The offensive rebounds the Cavs got in Game 4 can lead to open three pointers in Game 5. Going small helped the Warriors but also hurt them. With two days off LeBron James can refuel. He already won once in Oracle and I think he can do it again.